Scottish Conservatives to repeal Hate Crime Act free speech threat

The Scottish Conservatives have made an election pledge to repeal elements of the SNP’s Hate Crime Act that threaten free speech.

 

The party will also seek to amend the law so that women are given proper protection from hate crime.

 

In March, SNP justice secretary Humza Yousaf passed the most controversial law in Holyrood’s history with the backing of Labour, the Lib Dems and Greens.

 

The Scottish Conservatives have repeatedly warned about the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act’s chilling effect on free speech.

 

Elements of the legislation have been criticised by religious and cultural groups, writers, journalists, free speech campaigners, the legal profession and police.

 

There is no protection in the Act — a so-called “dwelling defence” — for things said in the privacy of your own home.

 

And while women are often targeted by hate crime due to their sex, the law does not include sex as an “aggravating factor”.

 

The Scottish Conservatives believe women are entitled to the same protection as other protected characteristics of age, disability, race, religion, sexual orientation and transgender identity.

 


Scottish Conservative justice spokesman Liam Kerr said: “This scandalous SNP law gives no defence to people for what they say in the privacy of their own homes.

 

“Yet it was backed by Labour, the Lib Dems and Greens. The Scottish Conservatives successfully fought to remove other extreme elements from the legislation before it was forced through.

 

“We are committed to repealing every single line that threatens free speech. We are on the side of the public, with 9 out of 10 Scots cherishing free speech and recognising it as a fundamental cornerstone of our democracy.

 

“This shows the danger of an SNP majority at Holyrood and confirms that we are the only party strong enough to stand up to them.

 

“It the SNP get their way in this election they would have unchecked power and, as this bill proves, that is a terrifying prospect.”

 

 

Scottish Conservative candidate for Glasgow Provan Annie Wells, speaking to the media in the city's Springburn Park today, said: “I am appalled that women are not given the same protection as other groups. This cannot stand and we will do everything possible to fix this SNP law.

 

“None of us question the need for genuine hate crime to be punished but we believe this act is dangerous and goes too far but, crucially, also fails to protect women.

 

“SNP justice secretary Humza Yousaf's hate crime law is the most controversial in the history of the Scottish Parliament, It is an affront to free speech that shames Scotland."

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